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Click for a Map of GermanyGermany offers a variety of landscapes from the coast in the north to the Bavarian Alps in the south.  The country boasts a multitude of historical towns and cities, romantic castles, and excellent museums.  The tourism infrastructure is well developed and most of the people speak English. 

Dining Out in Germany

Probably one of your first interactions with Germans will be at the dinner table.  Eating out in Germany is quite a treat, with a variety of international and local foods to choose from. 

Most establishments are mom & pop type restaurants that serve fresh, delicious food.  Do not expect to find many chain restaurants in Germany--but part of the fun in eating out in Germany is finding something different on the menu!

Choosing a restaurant to match your taste and price range is easy, since German custom dictates that each restaurant's menu be posted at its entrance.

TAKE YOUR TIME
Take your time when eating whether you dine at a restaurant or simply stop by a local cafe.  The fast food psychology, where patrons are rushed out of their seats as soon as they are finished, does not exist in Germany or Europe.  This fat becomes obvious after your meal when you must practically tackle your waiter to pay your bill. 

TIPPING
It is important to know that there is normally a 15% service charge and a 16% Value Added Tax already added to your bill.  An extra tip is not necessary.  However, most people round off the bill to the next higher Euro, or if service is extra special, they add a little more.  Checks are paid at the table and the tip is paid to the waiter, not left on the table. 

RESTAURANTS
In German, the word "restaurant" is pronounced with the accent on the last syllable.  Gasthaus, Gasthof, and Gaststatte also mean restaurant. 

Restaurants are not restricted to the hours that normal shops are allowed to be open, but do not expect to be able to get a meal at odd times of the day.  Establishments usually only serve meals during actual mealtimes (generally 11:30am-2am lunch, 6pm-9pm dinner).  Most restaurants close between 2pm and 6pm.  Also, most restaurants have a Ruhetag, or a day of rest when they are not open.

SEATING
It is customary for Germans who do not know one another to sit at the same table.  If there are free seats at a table and there is no other table empty, do not hesitate to join the occupants of that table.  However, you should always ask if the seat is "frei" or free before sitting down.

Make sure you keep an eye out for tables marked with Stammtish.  This is a table reserved only for regular customers who gather on certain days of the week to talk, play cards, or hold meetings.  Stammtisch tables stand out by their unique size or shape, special lamps, or location in an isolated area.

DOGS
Germans love their dogs.  In fact, Germany is one of the best countries to have a dog because you can bring your dog just about anywhere--restaurants, supermarkets, even shopping malls.  You will also notice, however, that German dogs are extremely well behaved, so don't attempt to take your dog out to a restaurant unless he or she is well trained.

DRINKS
If you would like a glass of water with your meal, you will have to ask for it, but don't be surprised if you are not served ice water.  Germans don't use much ice and you will usually have to specify that you want tap water or water without gas (Germans call it "still water") because if you simply ask for water, you will be served carbonated mineral water.  Water and soft drinks in Germany will cost as much or more than beer.  Milk is not customary with meals and may not be available.

FAST FOOD CONDIMENTS
You will be charged for packets of ketchup and other condiments.  Mayonnaise is very popular on fries and ketchup may taste slightly different.

Castles

Heidelberg CastleHeidelberg
Heidelberg is the very image of romantic Germany.  The city's 17th Century red sandstone castle ruin and the old bridge are two of the most majestic sights in all of Germany.

Neuschwanstein Castle
Neuschwanstein
Venture into the Bavarian Alps and visit the fairy tale landmark upon which the Walt Disney based his Disney Land Castle: Mad King Ludwig's Schloss Neuschwanstein.

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